Via the Daily Caller, you can’t put a clip in front of me of a conservative as prominent as the Hammer embracing atheism and not expect it to be blogged. It’s like AMC airing a very special episode of “The Walking Dead” where Rick (finally!) gets eaten. It’s not that I want to blog it, I have to blog it, as a sort of virtual high-five to the readership. Even though I realize that, on this one, I’m destined to end up like Tom Brady.
First George Will comes out as agnostic, now Krauthammer takes the Einsteinian view of a universe that’s too awesome to be a total accident but also too awesome to be explicable by any human conception of God. All that’s left is for Mark Steyn to declare that God is dead — and he’s gloomy enough to do it, too — before I declare victory.
“There was once a philosopher who said, ‘I don’t believe in God, but I fear him greatly.’ That’s about where I am,” the author of “Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics” said. ”I’ve had a fairly difficult and complicated notion of the deity. If I tried to explain it I would simply say — and this is by no means associating myself with the greatness of the man — but I would associate myself with Einstein’s conception of God, which was a recognition and an awe before the mystery of the order and beauty of the universe, which would imply that there is something very mysterious and very awesome — awe-inspiring — about the universe.”
Since you can’t have too much atheism on a slow news day, I’ve been remiss in not blogging the Harris Poll on Americans’ religious beliefs that came out last week. The topline numbers speak for themselves:
For a deeper insight into those numbers, follow the link and skip down to Table 4. Ten years ago, 50 percent of the public said they believed that God exists and that he observes what happens on Earth but doesn’t control things. Just 15 percent said they didn’t believe in God. Ten years later, those numbers are 37 percent and 25 percent, respectively. That jibes with other polls I’ve seen showing movement from the deist and agnostic camps over time into the atheist one. I don’t think that’s purely a function of people becoming less religious; some do, but others simply feel more comfortable calling themselves atheists or denying a belief in God than they used to. That’s a question, in fact, that I can’t recall ever seeing polled — how many self-described atheists today have slowly come around to that view over time and how many have held that view for many years but only recently began to feel that they could cop to it without suffering social stigma?
The other interesting data set is Table 1b, which shows the split among different age groups on specific questions about God, Jesus, Darwin, and various supernatural beings/practices. Some results are predictable: There’s a 17- to 19-point difference between young adults (age 18-36) and seniors (68+) on belief in God, the divinity of Jesus, and the resurrection. Fewer young adults believe in those last two, in fact, than believe in angels. At 49 percent, young adults are also the age group that’s most likely to subscribe to Darwin’s theory of evolution. Go further down the list, though, and you’ll find that young adults are less skeptical about some paranormal mainstays than seniors are. On the subject of ghosts, there’s a 20-point difference — 44 percent of young adults believe versus just 24 percent of seniors. On UFOs, it’s 36/30; on witches, it’s 27/18; on reincarnation, it’s 27/13; and on astrology, it’s 33/23. It may be true that young adults are less religious generally than their elders, but there’s some segment of them who are filling the spiritual void with other stuff. Who knows? Maybe, in a few hundred years, the ultimate triumph of the Dawkins/Hitchens effort will be a grand revival of, er … astrology. On second thought, maybe I’ll hold off on declaring victory after all.